Notes from Game 2

Rzep3.jpgIn the race for rotation spots, it has become increasingly clear that Marc Rzepczynski would have to pitch his was out of the competition this spring.

Cito Gaston has made it no secret that he was very impressed with the young lefty last season and the Blue Jays manager reiterated that again after Zep’s Grapefruit League debut on Thursday against the Tigers.

“I like the way he pitched for us last year,” Gaston said. “As I’ve said, his record surely didn’t show how well he pitched for us last year, but he did a good job. And, he did a great job today. Like I’ve said, when we leave, we leave with him.”

With that last statement, Cito means exactly what I said in the first paragraph. Zep would have to have a horrible spring not to make the Opening Day roster. And Gaston likes him so much, that if the Jays feel he isn’t one of the best starters, the manager said he would not mind having him in the bullpen.

Against the Tigers, Rzepczynski allowed no runs on one hit (an infield single that shortstop John McDonald nearly robbed with a diving grab and throw), and he finished with one strikeout and one walk, with 22 pitches (12 strikes).

Zep did issue a leadoff walk to Austin Jackson in the first — on four pitches, too — but he escaped the jam. The next hitter, Johnny Damon, hit a soft liner to short, where Johnny Mac gloved the ball for an out, and then quickly fired to first base to double up Jackson.

The way things currently stand, I think Rzepczynski is the leading candidate for the fifth spot in the rotation. The pitchers with the edge for the front four jobs are Ricky Romero, Shaun Marcum, Brandon Morrow, Brian Tallet and Dustin McGowan. I mention those five because each have been named by Gaston when discussing potential Opening Day starters.

DEBUTS: On the same day Roy Halladay made his debut as the ace of the Phillies, the Blue Jays brought all three prospects acquired in the Doc deal to the game against Detroit. Kyle Drabek and Brett Wallace made their Toronto debuts. Wallace went 1-for-2 with an RBI single and a run scored. Drabek pitched the fifth and sixth innings, allowing two runs on three hits with three strikeouts and two walks. Catcher Travis d’Arnaud did not play.

“It wasn’t that bad,” Gaston said of Drabek’s performance. “He was just missing just a little bit. From talking to [Jose] Molina a little bit, [pitching coach Bruce Walton] was telling me, he said he’s got good stuff. He’s firm. He just missed a little bit on certain pitches — up a little bit in the strike zone, But otherwise, his ball jumped. He was a little fired up, too.”

MOUND MOVES: The Blue Jays claimed righty Casey Fien off waivers from the Red Sox on Thursday and placed injured right-hander Scott Richmond on the 60-day DL to clear a spot on the 40-man roster. Richmond has been bothered with a right shoulder impingement, the same injury that dogged him down the stretch last year. The club really isn’t sure when Richmond will be able to return, but the Jays are not currently looking into surgery. As for Fien, he adds depth to the bullpen, and helps because he has player options. Toronto has a few arms in the mix for jobs who are out of options, as well as a Rule 5 pick in camp, and there is the possibility that Toronto could lose those pitchers if they do not make the Opening Day roster. Fien protects the Jays in case they face that type of situation.

CECIL SLICED: Lefty Brett Cecil, who is in the mix for a rotation job this spring, was scratched from Thursday’s game after cutting the thumb on his throwing hand. Walton said Cecil sliced the digit while cooking. Chatting with GM Alex Anthopoulos, he said Cecil can still throw, but the cut does hinder his curveball. So early in the spring, the Jays just wanted to be cautious, holding the lefty out of his two-inning appearance on Thursday. Cecil should be worked into a game in the next couple days.

BIRD FEED: Catching prospect J.P. Arencibia belted a mammoth two-run home run to break a 7-7 tie in the ninth inning, sending the Jays to a 9-7 win over Detroit. The blast — off Zach Miner — flew to left-center field and landed well up the hill over the wall. “I think this kid is going to be a legit catcher,” Gaston said. … Ray (formerly Reidier) Gonzalez made his spring debut for the Jays, giving up four runs (three earned) on five hits over two innings. … Jarrett Hoffpair made an error at third base for the Jays, one day after commiting one at second. In all, Toronto has made four errors through two spring games. … Wednesday’s home run hero, Chris “The Big” Lubanski, went 0-for-3 on Thursday. … The battle for the bench spots is on. Brian Dopirak went 2-for-3 with one RBI, Randy Ruiz went 1-for-3 with one RBI, Mike McCoy went 1-for-2 with a walk, a run scored and a two-out bunt single (small ball!), Jeremy Reed went 1-for-3 with one RBI and Joey Gathright finished 1-for-2 with one RBI. … Travis Snider went 1-for-2 with a walk one day after striking out twice. … And, remember, we’re only two games in, so don’t read too much into any of this! There’s a lot of baseball to be played.

PHOTO OF THE DAY


Cito4.jpgThrowback Thursday: Detroit manager Jim Leyland chats with Gaston

COMING UP: The Blue Jays take on the Phillies (no Doc, sorry) on Friday at Dunedin Stadium. Brandon Morrow starts for Toronto. Lance Broadway and David Purcey are also down to log two innings. Jesse Carlson, Casey Janssen and Jeremy Accardo will pitch one inning each. In a “B” game, Brad Mills will start against the Phils. Pitching prospects Zach Stewart, Chad Jenkins and Luis Perez are also scheduled to appear.

For complete Blue Jays coverage this spring, make sure you’re reading bluejays.com and following me on Twitter at @MLBastian. You can also find spring photos on TwitPic.com.

~JB

6 Comments

It is disappointing that a number of the spring games aren’t being televised, particularly in a year when so many of our soon to be stars are not only appearing, but having impact like they did in this game.

To be fair Bastian does his best to try to provide insight and does a fine job of it, we’re fortunate to have him, BUT why doesn’t Rogers do some games on Saturday and Sunday, when there’s little else showing anyway. It doesn’t have to be Rogers Center type quality or broadcast, but it would go a long way to show fans what they’re patiently waiting for.
I for one, being such a strong supporter of Arencibia, would have loved to see him hit that monster home run yesterday, McCoy get that bunt single, the first pitch Drabek threw in a Jays uniform or Wallace getting his first hit in his first at bat.

If there’s no room in any network broadcast schedules, then a deal could be done with MLB TV to broadcast games free over the internet, which might also help MLB tv sell subscriptions if they ever figure out blacking out road games isn’t the brightest thing to do.

Bottom line is, to build back fan interest, people need to see these kids play and a number of them, like Drabek, Wallace and D’arnaud will not be coming north. Wet the fans appetite, show them the future, spend some dough and get some games on the air………………

I noticed that the teams that have Spring Training games televised are the ones with deep pockets and large TV markets, like the Yankees, Mets, or Angels. Unfortunately, it still costs a lot of money to televise a game, and unless they can attract enough sponsorship money to cover the costs, they would sooner show the Leafs losing hockey games.
I don’t subscribe to MLB TV because of their stupid blackout regulations. It is one thing to black out the local area to support ticket sales, but all of Canada?? They should realize that they are not going to sell a lot of tickets in Cobourg, even less in Thunder Bay. I mean, I would subscribe even if I could catch the odd afternoon game, or others that aren’t being televised. Oh, well, Howarth and Ashby are well worth listening to.

I am also in agreement of showing spring training games. At least put something up on the weekends. there’s a lot of people screaming to see the future of this ball club (me included) I’m able to go down and see one game this year which is a complete fluke (my wife’s dragging me down to see the in-laws).

We want to see more ball.

Totally agree. For years I have wanted to go down to Florida to see some of these games in the confines of a small stadium. It must be a real treat, if you have the opportunity to go. If we can get a live feed from NASA, we should be able to get something — even on the Jays’ website. These kids are what make baseball exciting and interesting. No one really cares if Bautista manages a double steal with someone. We want to see Drabek, Wallace, Dopriak do their thing.

From A Sun article today: ….With his health problems behind him, J.P. Arencibia appears ready to resume his march to the major-leagues.Drafted in 2007, the catcher showed progress his first two seasons but last year in triple A he took a step backwards as a result of two issues. First, an astigmatism affected his night vision, which is when most baseball games are played. Needless to say it?s not the kind of condition conducive to hitting 90-mph fastballs.
The other, potentially more dangerous issue was a blockage in the tube that connects the kidney to the bladder. He lost 30 pounds as a result and required surgery in September. he also had lasik surgery to correct his eye problems. Thursday, without saying a word, Arencibia announced he is back by smacking a game-winning home run.

?I?ve seen him in the Florida State League two or three years ago,? said manager Cito Gaston. ?We didn?t see much from last year because he was hurt. I think this kid is going to be a legit catcher. He can hit and I like how he moves behind the plate.

No wonder Arencibia’s hitting dropped last year. He dropped 30 pounds and couldn’t see… I had picked up on the astigmatism in a previous article, but this Sun article is the first one detailing his kidney issue. 30 pounds on a guy that weighed only 215 to start with is a serious drop in weight. I’m surprised he was able to play at all last year.

I suspect what we saw yesterday is the first of many . Glad to see he’s healthy.

Check bluejays.com later for more on Arencibia. Chatted with the catcher today and am writing a feature for the site.

~JB

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